France prepares fund to support smaller nuclear firms

PARIS Sat Jan 26, 2013 1:54pm EST

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PARIS Jan 26 (Reuters) - The French government plans to unveil a fund to support small and mid-size businesses in the country's nuclear industry, a spokeswoman for the industry ministry said on Saturday, confirming a report in Le Monde newspaper.

The government also plans to set up an association bringing together French nuclear players in addition to the 123 million-euro ($166 million) fund, which will be designed to take stakes in companies, bolster their capital and facilitate tie-ups, the spokeswoman said.

It will be financed by major groups such as utility EDF , nuclear reactor maker Areva and engineering firm Alstom, as well as France's FSI strategic investment fund.

While the proportions are yet to be determined, Le Monde reported that the FSI would provide "a large third" of the sum.

The moves will be decided at a meeting of the French nuclear industry strategic committee on Tuesday, attended by Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg and Ecology Minister Delphine Batho.

The industry ministry spokeswoman said it wants to show support for a sector that employs 200,000 people in France and which will likely hire 110,000 workers by 2020. ($1 = 0.7421 euros) (Reporting by Yann Le Guernigou; Writing by James Regan; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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